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February 19, 2013

NCAA making staff changes

INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA’s home-grown scandal is hitting hard at headquarters.

President Mark Emmert announced Monday that Julie Roe Lach, the vice president of enforcement, is leaving and will soon be replaced by private attorney Jonathan Duncan after her role in the botched investigation at the University of Miami. He even suggested the NCAA’s board of directors and executive committee could hold him accountable for this mess, and it’s not over yet.

After releasing a 55-page report detailing how the NCAA violated its own practices and policies by paying the attorney for convicted Ponzi-schemer Nevin Shapiro thousands of dollars to help with the Miami case, Emmert spent more than an hour doing damage control on the latest black eye to hit the organization.

“I think the damage is, first of all, for those people who were already skeptical or cynics, this feeds into their cynicism,” Emmert told The Associated Press after a conference call with other reporters. “For those of us who have great confidence in all the people around this building, it’s painful to have to deal with an issue that fails to live up to our standards and expectations. I think that’s the challenge for all of us that work here.”

The report, written by attorney Kenneth L. Wainstein, details how now-former NCAA investigator Ameen Najjar appeared to manipulate the process by hiring Maria Elena Perez, Shapiro’s attorney, to help the NCAA obtain information from a bankruptcy proceeding — information that would have otherwise been unavailable. Shapiro has said that it provided improper benefits to dozens of football and basketball players at Miami.

According to the report, Lach obtained clearance for paying Perez, but the NCAA’s legal staff nixed the idea. Najjar then contacted Perez himself with what the report describes as a “way around” the road block.

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